At the time of writing this I am sipping a cup of coffee and reflecting on my return trip to Skellig Michael, my second trip in the space of three months. To say that the island itself is out of this world is most definitely an understatement. Located seven miles off the coast of Kerry and being a native of the area I often threatened to make the trip out to the historic site, but there was always some reason or another that prevented me doing so (mainly procrastination).
Naturally when it came time to view Skellig Michael on theatre screens as Ahch-To in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi my procrastination took a back seat to my enthusiasm and I arranged a trip out in May with several of my friends and then when my fiancée informed me that she would like to visit the island I was more than happy to oblige and arrange a second trip in August!
Setting foot on this remote island for the first time is a very special experience, there is something about the place that words cannot justly describe; it truly has to be experienced. My sense of awe, wonder and respect did not diminish in the slightest on my second visit, in fact it only grew! The landscape and scenery were just as beautiful and breath taking as it was on my first visit.
From the steps up to Christ’s Saddle – the area where Rey finds a self-exiled Luke at the end of The Force Awakens to the natural rock formation of the Wailing Woman (this can be seen in the trailer for The Last Jedi where Rey is practicing her lightsaber drills under the watchful gaze of Luke) to the monastery itself, it is easy to imagine this place as the ancient home of the first members of the Jedi Order.
Upon arriving atop Christ’s saddle and on a clear day like the day we had, you can see the Blasket Islands and just beyond those you can make out Ceann Sibeal (pronounced sha-bale) on the Dingle Peninsula, noteworthy due to the fact that production for The Last Jedi was on location here for two weeks in July 2016.
As we continued along our exploration of the island we came across some puffins, who served as inspirations for the porgs, just happily going about their business alongside us visitors (much how I imagine the porgs will be doing when we see them this December!) Over the course of the visitor season the island is also home to three caretakers/tour guides who spend the five months of the season living on the island in a shift rotation of two weeks on and a week off. There was a part of me that quietly envied their job as one of them told me that when the last visitor boat leaves the island at 4:30pm they have the place to themselves till 10:30 am the next morning! During that time she likes to walk around the island herself or with a co-worker and take it all in, a feeling she assured me has never gotten old in her 17 summers on the island!
Our three hour stay out on Skellig Michael just flew by, just as it did on my very first visit. If ever the opportunity arises for journey out then grab it! It makes for an amazing adventure and one that will not soon be forgotten.
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